Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

'A science of methods' [1]

Ethnology, Ethnography, Anthropology - and other disciplines

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project


These pages are a discussion of what individuals connected with the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, believed these disciplines to involve and what links there were between them. The Other Within team felt that between 1884 and 2009 museum staff and other people associated with the Musuem believed that they were engaged in particular forms of work, which they categorised differently from other people. This section is an attempt to set out the evidence for this belief.

It seems that many or all humans share the need to badge themselves up, to call themselves things which other humans will recognize and respect. This is frequently true with job titles, which can be grandiose or exact. The same seems be true for academic disciplines. It can be argued that much of what goes on at the Pitt Rivers Museum day-to-day has not changed much in a hundred years - new displays are designed, made and labelled, new artefacts are collected and accessioned, students are taught, research is carried out etc. etc. But these activities have been 'badged up' in a variety of different ways over those years, and the basic disciplines with which the museum is aligned have also changed, from anthropology and archaeology, to ethnography and ethnology and back again. These web-pages explore what these subjects are, or have been thought to be, and the different alignments that have occurred over the last 100 years.

The Pitt Rivers Museum and Ethnology

The Pitt Rivers Museum and Ethnography

The Pitt Rivers Museum and Anthropology


[1] Penniman, 1965: 373

Further reading

Beatrice Blackwood: 1942: 'Ethnology, Folk-Lore, and Popular Art'. Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Dec., 1942), pp. 89-99

T.K. Penniman, 1965. A Hundred Years of Anthropology London: Gerald Duckworth and Co. Ltd